I want to begin by saying that I love the way Lewis Jackson plays basketball. He reminds me of myself. When I play, I know I don't have a lot of natural skill, but I've always been fast. My favorite move is to crash the boards with reckless abandon on offense. In the past I have been so quick I can slice in, grab the rebound, and put it back up before people realize I am there. Of course, my quickness isn't as quick as it used to be, but you get the idea.
LewJack does the same thing, only he has actual basketball skill. At times it looks as if he has a basketball on a string as he drives and fakes. When he was out with a foot injury to start the 2009-10 season we managed, but with him driving the pace we looked unstoppable. It's hard to believe he is a senior now, ready for one last go-round.
Since LewJack got here he has grown up quite a bit. I remember a summer drunk driving incident after his freshman season where he was caught with some herb. Some players would have not learned from that and been gone by now. LewJack grew up. He's become a leader since then, averaging 8 points per game last season with 3.2 rebounds and four assists.
I love that LewJack only plays at one speed: balls out. He has to. His size disadvantage does not get in his way, much like Ricardo Allen. Lately he's been working on adding a pull-up jumper to his arsenal, and he's been an effective three-point shooter too. He's not going to light it up from long range like Ryne Smith or Anthony Johnson, but he shoots well enough that you have to respect it.
So what are some reasonable goals for LewJack this season? I think a 10-5-5 year is not outside the realm of possibility. He'll certainly be in the running for all-Big Ten honors. He'll certainly start and play an important role in pushing the offense. Coach Painter has mentioned that this may be his most athletic team at Purdue. LewJack can use that. I can see him pushing tempo to make this team more run and gun than it has been in the past. We learned against VCU how effective that can be in breaking down good halfcourt defensive teams. What better way to show what we have learned than to use it on others?